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Geron Provides Update on Telomerase Anti-Aging Therapy Activation Program
  Program Organizational Structure Changes to Pursue Drug Development Plan
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MENLO PARK, Calif., Jul 15, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Geron Corporation /quotes/comstock/15*!gern/quotes/nls/gern (GERN 4.84, -0.07, -1.43%) today announced that the activities of TA Therapeutics, its joint venture with Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), are being fully consolidated into Geron.
TA Therapeutics, Ltd. (TAT) was established in 2005 to further the development of small molecule telomerase activators identified in a scientific collaboration between scientists at Geron and HKUST. The company was established as a 50/50 joint venture with Geron contributing intellectual property rights and HKUST providing operating capital. In a 2007 restructuring, Geron's ownership interest increased to 75%. Under the new arrangement, the telomerase activator program will continue as an internal Geron program, and all intellectual property of TAT has been assigned to Geron. HKUST will be entitled to receive a royalty on future sales of drugs covered by that intellectual property.
Several telomerase activator drug candidates have been advanced into early efficacy studies, including animal models of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) and in vitro studies employing immune cells from HIV patients. Geron plans to continue those studies in order to advance a compound to the clinic.
"We have very much appreciated our partnership with HKUST, which dates from 2000 on the discovery of small molecule telomerase activators by screening libraries of natural product extracts," said David L. Greenwood, Geron's executive vice president and chief financial officer. "The ongoing preclinical development of drug candidates will be funded and conducted by Geron, and it is an appropriate time for us to conclude the joint venture."
Controlled activation of the enzyme telomerase may restore the regenerative and functional capacity of cells in various organ systems impacted by senescence, injury or chronic disease. Geron scientists and collaborators have investigated potential therapeutic application of small molecule activators using in vitro and in vivo models of human disease, including:
Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF): IPF is a chronic, progressive disease of the lung characterized by inflammation and fibrosis of the organ. There are currently no drugs that have been shown to slow the fibrotic process in lung disease or other organs. Administration of a small molecule telomerase activator in an animal model of IPF resulted in increased telomerase activity in the lung tissue, reduced inflammation, preserved functional lung tissue, slowed disease progression and attenuated loss of pulmonary function. This is the first demonstration that a telomerase activator can affect fibrotic disease progression in a model system. The data were presented at the American Thoracic Society 2010 International Conference in New Orleans, LA by Geron collaborator Dr. Claude Jourdan Le Saux from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.
HIV/AIDS: Most non-dividing cells show little or no telomerase activity, but telomerase is up-regulated by cells that must repeatedly divide, such as T-cells responding to viral antigens. However, during chronic HIV-1 infection, T-cells exhaust their ability to up-regulate telomerase, leading to critically short telomeres and other changes associated with replicative senescence, reducing their antiviral activity. In vitro studies showed that human CD8+ T-cells from HIV-infected donors exposed to a small molecule telomerase activator exhibited increased telomerase activity, resulting in retardation of telomere shortening, an increase in T-cell proliferation, and enhancement of critical antiviral functions against HIV-1. These studies were conducted by Dr. Rita B. Effros and colleagues at UCLA in collaboration with Geron scientists and published in the November 15, 2008 issue of the Journal of Immunology.
About Geron
Geron is developing first-in-class biopharmaceuticals for the treatment of cancer and chronic degenerative diseases, including spinal cord injury, heart failure and diabetes. The company is advancing an anti-cancer drug and a cancer vaccine that target the enzyme telomerase through multiple clinical trials in different cancers. For more information, visit
. This news release may contain forward-looking statements made pursuant to the "safe harbor" provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Investors are cautioned that statements in this press release regarding potential applications of Geron's telomerase activation technology constitute forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties, including, without limitation, risks inherent in the development and commercialization of potential products, uncertainty of clinical trial results or regulatory approvals or clearances, need for future capital, dependence upon collaborators and maintenance of our intellectual property rights. Actual results may differ materially from the results anticipated in these forward-looking statements. Additional information on potential factors that could affect our results and other risks and uncertainties are detailed from time to time in Geron's periodic reports, including the quarterly report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended March 31, 2010.
SOURCE: Geron Corporation
Geron Corporation
Anna Krassowska, Ph.D., 650-473-7765 (Investor and Media Relations)
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